Stop wasteful projectsWhen the president gets involved, unnecessary or bizarre national projects get carried out. Late last year, local businessmen in Busan, the president’s hometown, suggested that he build a new international airport, and the president told the Ministry of Construction and Transportation to examine the project. In November of last year, after the head of Muan County asked for an expansion of the Muan International Airport in South Jeolla Province, the president encouraged it. In September 2003, shortly after the administration took office, the national railway operator accepted a suggestion by relatives and friends in President Roh’s hometown and changed its plan to build a station near the town on a new railway behind Busan Newport. These three projects have one thing in common. The government examined the number of expected passengers for the projects in the beginning, but then the president got involved and the plans changed. Under the new plans, the distribution of resources is unfair and their economic effectiveness is worse. The new airport has no economic justification and its timeline calls for the examination of the project to begin after 2010. But because the president ordered the examination, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation hastily tried to get money for the job. In Muan International Airport, two or three planes arrive each day. But the ministry is already talking about buying the sites needed for expansion and design.
A planned railway route with a station near Bongha village, the president’s childhood home, looks weird. The route detours when it should run straight. People in the village say tourists will visit the house where the president was born, his home and the wetlands nearby. But the railway company has already decided that such a route will have little economic benefit. Even though the railway company and a designer concluded that it would be inefficient to construct the winding route, the plan has only been changed because the village is the president’s hometown. The purpose of the railway is to back Busan Newport. The project for the new railway is very important because the port handles less cargo than expected as it has been overshadowed by other ports, such as one in China. The railway should back up the new port effectively. If the railway makes a detour, time and energy will be wasted. These types of incidents often happened in former administrations. President Roh Moo-hyun must break away from these malpractices to become a real reformer.